Book review of

The S&W Phenomenon
A Trilogy
by Timothy J. Mullin

Not all of us appreciate the steady march of civilization and technology. Those who don’t tend to harp about ‘golden ages’ past. Some would argue the golden age of firearms has passed. Perhaps. It cannot be said, however, that we have passed the golden age of firearms books. Indeed, we are smack in the midst of it. The current crop of firearms books is breathtaking in diversity, quality and scope. Some of the best books focus on the glorious guns of days gone by. Three volumes on Smith & Wesson by Timothy J. Mullin are excellent examples. There is simply no better account of S&W revolvers than Mullin’s trilogy.

His first volume, MAGNUM, appeared in 2012. It was as much about the .357 Magnum cartridge as it was about the great Registered Magnum N-frame revolver in which the cartridge was introduced. Living today in the age of the .44 Magnum, the .454 Casull and the .500 S&W, it’s difficult to recall a time when we didn’t enjoy revolver cartridges offering rifle-like performance. But prior to the introduction of the .357 Magnum in 1935, the most powerful revolver round available was the .45 Colt. Its muzzle velocity of 900 fps was almost leisurely compared to the .,357’s 1500 fps. Much space in Mullin’s book is given over to the guns themselves, including the Triple-Lock and Hand-Ejector models that led up to the grand N-frame .357s. The price of MAGNUM is $69.95 plus handling, insurance and shipping. The book has 282 pages along with 232 illustrations, many of them in color.

THE K-FRAME REVOLVER is Mullin’s second installment of the S&W trio. Published in 2013, it relates the story of the medium-frame Smith & Wesson revolvers that are instantly recognizable to virtually every sentient human. The K-frame revolver may seem like an anachronism, given the population explosion of autoloaders, but it still soldiers on 117 years after its introduction. One reason is its versatility. Since its appearance in 1899, no other revolver has been produced in so many iterations – from .22 Long Rifle to .357 Magnum, in fixed-sight and adjustable-sight guise, with innumerable barrel styles and lengths to say nothing of a steady course of mechanical refinements. THE K-FRAME REVOLVER contains 520 pages and 592 illustrations, most in color. Price is $89.95.

SERIOUS SMITH & WESSONS is Volume III. It came off the press in 2015 and is devoted to N and X-frame guns. The N-frame family of revolvers was born in 1908 with the “New Century” model, better known to us moderns as the Triple Lock. Arguably the finest double-action revolver ever made, it evolved over time into the Model 29 .44 Magnum, which is still with us today. Of special interest to revolver enthusiasts is the material on Elmer Keith, the dean of modern sport revolver craft. The three pages of exquisite photos and the discussion of Keith’s famous No. 5 revolver are worth the price of admission, which is $79.95 for 360 pages and 461 illustrations, most in color.

Each of these volumes could be adjudged a life’s work. Together, they are a monumental accomplishment, the most comprehensive record we will ever have of Smith & Wesson revolvers. Author Mullin, who practices law in St. Louis, Mo., is an Army veteran, a historian and a law-enforcement firearms instructor. He is well qualified to have written this epic. His contacts in the gun-collecting community shared generously of their guns, their memorabilia and their knowledge to provide support and documentation for Mullin’s effort. Almost as fascinating as the guns and their histories are the letters, the period advertising, the documents and the accessories that Mullin includes and without which the Smith & Wesson story would not be complete.

Mullin’s books are published by Collector Grade Publications in Ontario, Canada. The first-rate quality of the books complements the subject matter and the author in fine style. Each volume features hardy leatherette binding and a dust jacket. Bibliophiles and firearms aficionados will find an education in the publisher’s extensive list of other titles.


For more information or to order your copies please see:
Collector Grade Publications, Inc.
P. O. Box 1046
Cobourg, Ontario,
(905) 342-3434